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COVID-19: Further 20 commercial repatriation flights

COVID-19: Further 20 commercial repatriation flights

The Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on 17 January 2021 an additional 20 repatriation flights targetting the ‘regions of most need’ for returning Australians, that are not presently covered by regular commercial flights.

The repatriation flights will run between the end of January and the end of March 2021.

Returning passengers will be quarantined at Howard Springs, and in other states and territories who are willing to facilitate international arrivals over and above the current capacity limits.

“These flights will bring people back from the United Kingdom, Europe, India and other places where vulnerable Australians are most in need of assistance.”Michael McCormack

There have been 92 Government supported repatriation flights so far, returning about 12,800 Australians. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has supported roughly 39,000 Australians returning during the pandemic.

More than 446,000 Australians have returned since Australian borders were closed to most international travel back in March 2020.

Qantas chartered flights and other commercial services

Qantas will provide the 20 international repatriation flights in February and March using B787-9s returning some of the 40,000 Australians registered with DFAT. The passengers returned will be over and above the current capacity limits on returning travellers each state has agreed to.

Now that Emirates has temporarily withdrawn from the Australian market, thier arrivals capacity can be redistributed to other international carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Japan Airlines and Etihad.

National Cabinet slashed by nearly half, the maximum number of international arrivals after January 15, 2021, as a response to outbreaks of the more virulent ‘UK’ strain of the virus in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. Arrivals are currently limited to about 5,000 per week.

Flight & quarantine costs

Costs for the Qantas repatriation flights have not been announced but will probably mirror previous flight costs of $1,500 to $2,500 per person, one way, economy, depending on the port of departure.

Individuals will be up for AU$2,500, and families AU$5,000 for their 14 nights at Howard Springs in quarantine. Quarantining at hotels in capital cities will be a little more expensive at around AU$3,000 per person depending on which state you land in. Combined rates for families are also available, as are government loans for those in financial hardship.

You can call DFAT to find out about the flights, although if you are overseas and registered with DFAT, you can expect them to contact you.

  • Within Australia: 1300 555 135
  • Outside Australia: +61 2 6261 3305
  • SMS: +61 421 269 080

If you want to register for repatriation services with DFAT, go to:

Australians crave ‘big’ things. This one is the Big Prawn outside Bunning’s in Ballina, NSW

2PAXfly Takeout

The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.

It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.

This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.

The Australian government has been a little slow off the mark on these repatriation services – seemingly not realising that nearly a year down the track, with the advent of Christmas, summer, not to mention almost non-existent virus levels here in the antipodes, more Australians might want to return home from the UK, Europe, the USA, the subcontinent, and the rest of the world.

I’ll say again – there is no ‘human right’ to have your government return you home from foreign shores – but at the very least, it seems like a good way to not alienate potential voters?

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